Ethiopians in Israel have fewer children, study finds

Ethiopians in Israel have fewer children, study finds

But Knesset investigation can’t confirm claims that women were given contraceptives without consent

Ethiopian immigrants arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport in December 2011. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)
Ethiopian immigrants arrive at Ben-Gurion Airport in December 2011. (photo credit: Kobi Gideon/Flash90)

JTA — A Knesset study commissioned after accusations that Ethiopian women waiting to come to Israel were given contraceptive injections against their will shows that they had far fewer children than the country’s average.

The study conducted by the Knesset Research and Information Center could not, however, confirm that the women were given the contraceptive shot Depo-Provera without their consent, as Haaretz reported.

The report broadcast December 8 on the “Vacuum” investigative news program on Israeli Educational Television alleged that Ethiopian immigrants were coerced or coaxed into receiving Depo Provera, a long-term contraceptive shot that lasts three months, both by Jewish aid officials in transit camps in Gondar before their immigration to Israel and by health workers in Israel.

In the past decade, births among Ethiopian women in Israel have fallen by nearly 50 percent, according to the report.

In mid-January, the Health Ministry instructed doctors to stop administering the shots unless women ask for them and understand their ramifications.

Data from the Bureau of Statistics included in the report shows that there was a significant decrease in the number of children born to Ethiopian immigrant women to Israel between 2000 and 2010.

The study reported that the American Jewish Joint Distribution Committee provided family-planning courses to the women in transit camps prior to their immigration to Israel. The courses were not supervised by the Israeli government, according to the study.

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